How to Use Customer Insights to Challenge The Status Quo

Why does Subaru communicate “LOVE” in all of their campaigns and across all customer touchpoints? Why did Gillette choose to tackle masculinity in its 2019 ad campaign? These decisions were guided by the marketer’s holy grail—the insight.

Insights inform a wealth of different brand decisions, from messaging and content angles to the emotions ads should invoke. Marketers also use insights to provide direction on strategy, creative assets, and media planning among other aspects of our work. When customer insights are used across teams, they can even inform product development.

If you’re looking to harness the power of the almighty insight to help you kick off a new project or amplify the performance of an existing one, look no further. In this article, we’ll dig deeper into what an insight is, how they work, and how you can get started discovering actionable insights for your organization.

What Exactly is a Customer Insight?

Although insights are backed by data, they’re much more than that. They go beyond facts, demographic statistics, or observations of customer behavior. Rather, insights guide your understanding of your audiences at a very human level—they are simple human truths.

They don’t always have to be a groundbreaking revelation, either. But they should shift your team’s understanding of the customer. For example, Julian Cole explains that Snickers’ customer insight is: HANGRY – a pivotal moment when a person’s hunger is so intense it impacts their behavior. Hangry people tend to act abnormally among their friends, risking their friendship dynamic. This insight is simple but pinpoints a relatable, visceral experience that Snickers’ brand can own and expand on because of its unique value proposition in the industry: satisfying hunger.

How Can You Develop a Customer Insight?

There is no hard and fast methodology to developing an insight. There are, however, some essential ingredients to ensuring it is relevant and representative. While an insight is not a fact, it is informed by customer data—a mix of quantitative, qualitative, and secondary when possible. This data will inform your understanding of audience needs, motivations, and journey.

In-depth audience intelligence, along with a strong grasp of the brand’s unique value proposition—from both the customer and market perspectives—are essential ingredients for insight creation. With these in hand, we can begin to develop an insight. It can be helpful to start this process by defining a real-life problem and giving that problem context with a brief, relatable story.

You can combine a thoughtfully crafted insight with value propositions to drive overarching marketing and communications strategy. Customer insights will also sit at the center of the creative brief and help define your creative team’s challenge. When done well, the insight will drive brand innovation, and help get internal and external teams on board and excited about a reimagined brand experience.

For example, before Nike’s famous “Just Do It” tagline emerged, the brand typically centered its campaigns around the image of elite athletes. In the ‘80s, however, it dawned on them that this approach didn’t resonate with the average amateur athlete or fitness enthusiast. Once they looked at the data to understand the habits, needs, and challenges of the average person, they developed the insight that their audience doesn’t always view exercise as something glorious.

They used this insight to launch their “Just Do It” campaign, which was so successful it became the brand’s tagline. “Just Do It” captures the average person’s struggle—and determination—to make fitness a priority, even when they really want to hit that snooze button instead. Nike has enjoyed great success by shifting their approach to resonate with their audience.

The Impact of Insights in Action

Armed with a powerful customer insight, your marketing and creative teams will be able to challenge the status quo about messaging, positioning, and creativity to fit that insight. If you’ve been operating under the assumption that your audience cares most about the price of the product or service but discover they actually care more about quality, that’s going to prompt a huge shift in messaging! Done right, you can use insights to develop ad campaigns that will set you apart from your competitors and withstand the test of time among your key audiences.

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